Baton Rouge Veterinarian Seeks to Inform Public About Cat Scratch Fever

Baton Rouge, Louisiana, UNITED STATES

BATON ROUGE, La., Aug. 31, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Local veterinarian Dr. Christopher Hayes of Jefferson Animal Hospital is getting the word out about Bartonella, more commonly recognized as cat scratch fever. The doctor wants local pet owners to understand more about the illness and what it means for cats, dogs, and humans. The condition itself occurs in cats and dogs upon transmission to the pets from fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, and other insects.

While cat scratch fever is most commonly associated with cats, a Baton Rouge veterinarian says dogs are at risk of contracting this condition as well. Humans that get cat scratch fever, or Bartonella, typically contract the illness as a result of a bite or scratch from their pets. In rare cases it can be transmitted through simple contact with the pet's fur.

"Fleas, in particular, are a common cause of Bartonella in pets," warned Dr. Hayes. He stresses prevention as the most important means of avoiding Bartonella in household pets. Dr. Hayes adds that animals who frequently travel in and out of pet doors throughout the day are especially in need of treatment for fleas. Homes with multiple pets need extra attention and more proactive flea preventative treatments, as do homes in hot humid environments like Baton Rouge, according to Dr. Hayes.

When asked about cat scratch fever symptoms in pets, Dr. Hayes listed oral ulcers, chronic eye infections, inflammatory bowel syndrome, gingivitis, upper respiratory disease, and enlarged lymph nodes as common symptoms. He is quick to advise, however, that not all pets who have Bartonella display any symptoms. "In fact," said Dr. Hayes, "in Louisiana, nearly 50 percent of cats that tested positive for Bartonella were healthy cats."

Cats that show no symptoms of Bartonella can pass the condition along to other animals as well as humans. "That's why it's so important to test cats, even healthy cats, for this condition," emphasized Dr. Hayes. "It's especially wise to test stray animals, shelter pets, and animal rescues for this condition before bringing them into the family home."

Human symptoms of cat scratch fever include high fever, lymph node swelling, and flu-like symptoms. Severe cases can lead to brain damage. Children and babies are extremely susceptible to Bartonella bacteria as are people who suffer from immune deficiencies or compromised immune systems.

Treatment for humans and animals alike generally involves some form of antibiotic treatment and aggressive flea control actions.

Dr. Hayes believes that an informed public can take preventative measures now to avoid cat scratch fever. Families who have had flea infestations in the past are encouraged to contact a veterinarian today for a blood test and take immediate action to make their homes an unattractive haven for fleas.

In addition to flea treatments, Jefferson Animal Hospital offers pet urgent care, surgery, vaccines, wellness exams, and more.


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